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From qualitative states to propositional contents: the puzzle of experiential justification

Silvano Zipoli Caiani


It is generally agreed that our beliefs must have epistemic justification if they are to count as knowledge. It is also a commonplace thought that our beliefs can be either inferentially justified or empirically justified. However, while the theory of inferential reasoning provides a theoretical framework for understanding how a belief may get inferential justification, we lack a similar framework for empirical justification. Indeed, since inferential justification is transmitted only from propositional contents to propositional contents, experiences cannot figure as part of this process, unless their qualitative format are translated in a propositional format. This paper aims at clarifying the nature of empirical justification by focusing on the longstanding problem of how experiences get a propositional content. After a rebuttal of two popular naturalization strategies, I will argue that also the phenomenal intentionality research program suffers from a critical flow. Indeed, although experiences have intrinsic phenomenal intentionality, this is not sufficient for experience to obtain propositional content.


epistemic justification; propositional content; phenomenal intentionality; mental content; naturalism.

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